When you form a business, you most likely will be choosing a company name. Before you register your business in your state, you may consider filing a DBA.
A DBA is any name a business operates under that isn’t its legal name. Your state might refer to a DBA as a fictitious name, assumed name, or trade name.
This article introduces you to the process of filing a DBA for your business and other requirements it may involve. Read on below to know what is a DBA in business, how to file a DBA, and more.
What is a DBA Name?
“DBA” means “Doing Business As”. When using a DBA a person or a company is operating their business using a business name other than their real, actual name.
A DBA is the name of a business other than the owner’s name or, in the case of a corporation, a name that is different from the corporate name on file with the Secretary of State.
Most businesses are not required to file a DBA to operate. However, a DBA name can come in handy for several reasons, like expanding your business or using a better name without using your legal business name.
Should You Start Your Business As an LLC or DBA?
It’s important to know the differences between a DBA vs LLC. A DBA is basically an application that is filed with your state and/or county to let them know you want to conduct business under a different name.
Once your application is approved, you can advertise under the name, take payments under the name, open a bank account, etc.
Forming an LLC also involves steps, which include filing with the Secretary of State. Similar to a DBA, it allows you to operate under a name other than your own.
The major difference is that an LLC is a business structure that separates an owner from their business entity and protects their personal assets. A DBA is only an assumed, fictitious or trade name, and offers no additional protection.
Before filing a DBA, you may consider structuring your business as an LLC.
If you want to save time and ensure your LLC filing is properly taken care of, consider using a professional LLC service. We recommend Northwest Registered Agent services, which only charges $29 + state fees.
What is Included in the DBA Name Application?
The process for registering a DBA name varies from state to state. In many states, you will file DBA forms with the Secretary of State or the County Clerk for a cost of $10 to $100. You may also need to publish a notice of your DBA name in a local newspaper.
Most DBA applications must contain the following information:
- the name and address of the small business owner;
- a description of the small business starting business operations;
- and various other information pertaining to the business or the business owner.
DBA Name Search
Before filing a DBA, you should make sure your name isn’t taken or too similar to another registered business in your state. You will also want to make sure your DBA meets your state’s naming guidelines.
You can search for available names using the federal trademark database if you want to protect your DBA name and prevent others from using the name. Note that a DBA name registration doesn’t provide the same protection as a trademark.
To look up available names for your business, especially an LLC, you can use our state-specific name search for your LLC guide.
What is a DBA FAQ
I’ve already got a name for my LLC. Do I need a DBA?
If you have an LLC and want to do business under a name different from your legal name, most states require that you file a “Doing Business As” name or “DBA.”
How many DBAs can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you would like. However, more is not necessarily better due to additional expenses and paperwork unless you’re opting to open multiple franchises.
What if you do not file a DBA name?
Most states may require a DBA name filing. For example, if you’re looking to operate multiple businesses in California, you are required to have a DBA name before you start your business. Some states that require DBAs impose fines and penalties if you do not file one for your business.
What information is required for a DBA filing?
DBA filings will contain your name as the applicant, date of filing, name of the fictitious business, and address. In most states, you must first file the DBA documents with the Secretary of State or similar government authority, including a small fee. In some states, you also have to publish a notice of the name in your local newspaper.
Is it a good idea to get a DBA vs. a legal name change?
Filing a DBA is a better option if you want to rebrand your business or open another line of business. A DBA name is a simpler process than filing for a legal business name change.